Are you heading to the Scottish Learning Festival?

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Photo: Education Scotland

The Scottish Learning Festival returns to the SECC in Glasgow on September 23 and 24. We look at what is on offer this year

This year's Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) is to offer more than 100 professional learning seminars, as well as professional discussions, keynote addresses and the largest education exhibition in the country.

The theme of this year's event focuses on raising achievement and attainment for all by "maximising educational outcomes through local partnerships and collaboration, self-evaluation and work-related learning".

Organisers Education Scotland are expecting to welcome thousands of delegates to the SECC to benefit from the free learning opportunities on offer.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear Angela Constance MSP, cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning, deliver her first keynote address at the SLF. In addition, three further speakers will deliver keynotes:

  • Professor Mel Ainscow, professor of education and co-director of the Centre for Equity in Education in University of Manchester.
  • Dr Bill Maxwell, chief executive of Education Scotland.
  • Chris van der Kuyl, entrepreneur and chairman of 4J Studios.

As well as the keynote speeches, three interactive professional discussions are taking place on the Thursday, September 24. These will focus on:

  • How good is our school?
  • Making education work for all.
  • Developing the Young Workforce.

These sessions will provide delegates with the opportunity to engage in conversation and debate with leading experts and colleagues. For more information about what's happening at the SLF, visit the website for a downloadable conference programme (see further information).

Keynote addresses

The opening keynote address will be delivered by Angela Constance MSP at 10:30am on the Wednesday, September 23.

Following this in the Lomond Auditorium at 12:30pm, Prof Ainscow will present his approaches for how to address the challenge of equity in education.

He will outline a number of strategies and give practical examples to illustrate how school communities can use them. The keynote will address implications for teachers, school leadership teams, local and national administrators and researchers.

The keynote programme on the Wednesday concludes at 1:45pm with Dr Bill Maxwell, who is to outline some of the key developments which Education Scotland are taking forward with their partners this year.

Many of these developments are designed to provide practical resources and support to help front-line practitioners turn high-quality self-evaluation into deep and sustainable changes to practice with real benefits for learners.

On the Thursday at 2:30pm, Chris van der Kuyl brings the SLF 2015 to a close with his keynote. He will discuss how practitioners can help our children and young people to become Scotland's digital generation. He will be drawing on experiences from his entrepreneurial and business backgrounds during his address

Professional discussions

This year there will be three professional discussions, giving delegates opportunities to engage and debate key issues with colleagues.

Opening the discussion programme at 9:30am on the Thursday will be the launch of the revised framework, How Good Is Our School? Delegates will find out how the framework links to other improvement methodologies in Scottish education and will have the opportunity to discuss approaches to improvement through effective self-evaluation.

The Robert Owen Centre for Education Change will lead the second discussion of the day on Making Education Work For All. Delegates will be able to discuss how the education system could rethink roles and responsibilities to accelerate change and innovation in schools and classrooms.

The discussions come to a close at 1pm with a session on Developing the Young Workforce (for more on the programme see The session will provide opportunities to engage with the key partners to find out more about the work.

Professional learning seminars

The SLF seminar programme features more than 100 professional learning sessions. Seminars will be presented by practitioners, pupils and a range of well-known people from education across Scotland. Whether it is learning superheroes, STEM in the early years, or adult achievement, the organisers have promised a "seminar for everyone". A full conference programme is available on the website.

The SLF exhibition

The SLF experience includes the exhibition with more than 150 exhibitors and a range of features all designed to share innovative practice, new resources and proven strategies to enhance teaching and learning.

As well as many well-known organisations such as Skills Development Scotland, YPO and the SQA there are a myriad of new companies and organisations exhibiting this year.

Some of these include Glasgow-based Edublinds, producers of educational window blinds for schools, and Discovery Education, who will be promoting its digital media content.

In addition, newcomers to Scotland such as Edtap, who will be launching their communications app for teachers and parents, and Ma Ma Chong, suppliers of Mandarin teaching cards, will also be launching for the first time at the SLF.

There are also new features in the exhibition this year. These include Learning through Technology, a partnership with the Tablet Academy, who will run regular seminars on how best to utilise technology in the classroom.

To celebrate the Year of Food and Drink, the Food for Thought Showcase will demonstrate how schools across Scotland have developed and improved learning and teaching around food education. The ever-popular Healthier Scotland Cooking Bus will also be at the SLF to provide free cooking demonstrations.

The exhibition will also include the Developing the Young Workforce Showcase where delegates can engage with the programme's partner organisations, employers, and training providers.

The Parental Engagement Village will be home to representatives from Education Scotland, the National Parent Forum of Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, and the Scottish Parental Involvement Officers Network.

The exhibition will also play host to a number of regulars, including the Education Scotland stand, the Local Authority Village, and the Cultural Village, hosted by Creative Scotland.

SLF Extra

As well as the activities taking place at SLF in September, the professional learning opportunities will continue beyond the two-day event in Glasgow with the SLF Extra events. Working with local authorities, professional associations and other partners, Education Scotland will deliver a range of events to extend the professional learning opportunities to practitioners around Scotland. Visit the SLF website for more.

Further information

To book your free place and for more information on the SLF as a whole, visit For more on the exhibition, go to


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